Color & Control:

Great expectations fall flat in the pharmacy

Between the vegetables and the greeting cards the pharmacy has become a catch all for healthcare consumers, encouraged by our governments. Whether it’s as the new “ one-stop-shop for common ailments program” or over the counter remedies, the drill is “ask a pharmacist”.   

With ER’s and family doctor’s offices bursting at the seams, Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health claims, “Expanding the ability of pharmacists to provide care is one more way we’re putting people at the centre of our health care system, making it easier, faster and more convenient to access community health care”. Pharmacy prescribing will help free-up doctors’ bandwidth to provide care for more complex needs and help reduce wait times”.

The idea of having “highly trained pharmacists” prescribing for everything from hay-fever and impetigo to UTI’s sounds like a plan….until reality sets in. 

Out in the open the pharmacist uncomfortably reads a set of personal questions from his computer screen. Four seniors wait behind, listening as he soullessly wades through his diatribe of restrictions—what he can’t do rather than what he might. 

He’s not personable, discreet or helpful. Two of the seniors behind me leave, shaking their heads.

The end result, despite my ailment being on the list. No advice, not an ounce of bedside manner, no treatment recommendations and, as promised, no bill, at least not for me. 

“With over 800 locations our pharmacy teams stand ready to help provide this service” says Jeff Leger, President of Shoppers Drug Mart in a press release. Can’t help but wonder what he would have thought had he been behind me in the line.

Feeling guilty for potentially wasting resources, but concerned, I went to the hospital emergency room later that day. Compassionate care, a dedicated medical team who asked why I’d waited so long to come in. My concern was genuine. Multiple tests. Fast results. Diagnosis. Treatment, Even a follow up phone call and records back to my family doctor. 

Sorry Madame Deputy and Mr. Leger…. I “stopped on by the pharmacy” and I won’t be going back, at least not for a prescription appointment as you’re suggesting.

Caroline Tapp-McDougall

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